chemical industry, the business of using chemical reactions to turn raw materials, such as coal, oil, and salt, into a variety of products. During the 19th and 20th cent. technological advances in the chemical industry dramatically altered the world's economy. Chemical processes have created pesticides and fertilizers for farmers, pharmaceuticals for the health care industry, synthetic dies and fibers for the textile industry, soaps and beauty aids for the cosmetics industry, synthetic sweeteners and flavors for the food industry, plastics for the packaging industry, chemicals and celluloid for the motion picture industry, and artificial rubber for the auto industry.
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